An important part of culture
Salmon and halibut are important staples in the diet of many people in BC, and continue to be a food of significance to coastal First Nations peoples. Sabrina Clifton, Program Manager at the Gitmaxmak'ay, Prince Rupert, and Port Edward Nisga'a Society, is actively involved in programming that supports local Nisga’a members in preserving salmon. Sabrina has been smoking salmon and making k’ayukws (smoked & dried salmon strips) for about 25+ years.
“There are different ways that Indigenous people prepare foods for preserving. The best teachers are our Elders. For 3 years classes have been held where our Elders mentor our youth and members. We have 2 smoke houses at the ‘Rupert Lawn & Garden’ available to our Gitmaxmak’ay Members. I think it is very important to continue to teach how to preserve traditional foods as the seafood is ‘our back yard’. Our Elders have so much to offer us; the knowledge they have is amazing. There are always tricks and different ways of preparing. We always learn something new. There is always a lot of laughter and when preparation is all finished you get a sense of accomplishment which is good for the soul.” (Sabrina Clifton)
In addition to its nutritional benefits, fishing and processing fish is good for the mind, body and spirit. These activities have been and continue to be an important part of culture, connecting families, physical activity and mental wellness!